Councillors from the Whitehill & Bordon Community Party have swept into powerful positions at East Hampshire District Council – and not everybody is happy about it.
Cllr Andy Tree’s party, contesting the district elections for the first time, won all six seats in the Whitehill & Bordon area and ended up holding the balance of power as the Conservatives won 19 and the Liberal Democrats 14.
With 22 seats required for a majority, Cllr Tree – pictured shaking hands on the deal with Conservative council leader Cllr Richard Millard – opted to work with the Tories rather than the Lib Dems and Greens, whose combined 16 seats were another route to the magic number.
The deal with Cllr Millard gave the WBCP two cabinet seats, with its other four councillors given portfolio assistant roles. Lib Dem group leader Cllr Steve Hunt was appointed chairman of the Overview And Scrutiny Committee and Tory Cllr Anthony Williams was made council chairman.
Speaking after the annual meeting, Cllr Hunt said: “The chairman reminded members that we are all district councillors and are here to serve the entire area. We will certainly be providing policy ideas to the administration, and will work for all East Hampshire, without fear or favour.”
Cllr Hunt will invite Cllr Millard and Cllr Tree to publish their “original and unredacted agreement in full” and present it to the Overview And Scrutiny Committee. He said: “There is no suggestion of impropriety whatever and I am sure there will be no issues, but residents do expect transparency.”
Green group leader Cllr Ian James said: “The controlling coalition of the EHDC could have been configured to include the Green Party. In reality the WBCP is a single-issue pressure group. Its only rationale for being is to seek policies that favour Whitehill & Bordon.”
Cllr Millard, welcoming the new council at the annual meeting, said: “We are now an interesting mix.”